Articles | Volume 6, issue 6
31 Dec 2002
31 Dec 2002

Simple sensors to achieve fine spatial resolution in continuous measurements of soil moisture and salinity

F. Konukcu, J. W. Gowing, and D. A. Rose

Abstract. It is increasingly necessary to be able to measure, simultaneously, continuously and at fine spatial resolution, the salinity and water content of soil. This paper reports the design, construction, calibration and laboratory testing of two simple but robust instruments that enable this to be achieved. Salinity in solution was measured reliably, at 10-mm spacing, by multi-electrode resistivity probes up to saturation with NaCl (c. 6 mol l–1), though these probes required individual calibration and were unable to detect precipitated salt. Volumetric water content was measured with great sensitivity over a wide range, from air-dryness (0.06 m3m–3) to saturation (0.55 m3m–3) in a sandy loam, using thermal-conductivity probes that used a common calibration and were unaffected by the salinity of the soil solution, by temperature and by ageing.

Keywords: soil moisture, soil salinity, thermal-conductivity moisture probe, four-electrode salinity probe